How to Deter Burglars from Breaking Into Your Home

Getting your home broken into is a scary experience, but you can do a handful of things to prevent a burglar from even thinking about coming close to your house.

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Burglars choose houses that are easy targets. I always like to say that to keep burglars away from your house, the best thing you can do is to make it a less attractive target than your neighbor’s house. You don’t have to outrun the bear; just the people around you. And making your home less attractive to burglars can be pretty easy to do, depending on your neighborhood. Here are some ideas.

Turn On Exterior Lights

Burglars don’t like to be seen, and if breaking into a house means that they’re going to get flooded with light, they might get cold feet and look for a darker home.

You can use motion-controlled flood lights near entry points around your house, or just keep porch lights on from dawn til dusk.

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You can even set this up so that your exterior lights turn on automatically whenever it’s dark out using any combination of smarthome gear, but a basic motion-sensing (or even ambient light-sensing) exterior flood light would work just fine in most cases.

Randomize Your Interior Lights

It’s pretty safe to say that burglars won’t break into a house if it even remotely appears that someone might be home, which is why randomizing your indoor lights can provide this illusion.

Most smart bulbs come with this feature, letting you program your lights so that they turn on and off at random times. You can also just buy a cheap basic timer, but the downside there is that your lights will turn on and off at the exact same time every day—a burglar could easily catch on to that if they’re casing your house.

Of course, working with lights only goes so far. After all, most burglaries occur during the day on weekdays, when it’s less likely for people to be home.

Advertise an Alarm System

Having an alarm system is better than nothing, but it’s not the holy grail of home security, especially if a burglar doesn’t know that you have an alarm system in the first place. That’s why just having a sticker saying that you have an alarm system often can be a good enough deterrent.

The 24/7 professional monitoring that comes with most alarm systems can provide peace of mind, but they’re mostly not worth it. Response times from police are usually pretty slow (especially in busy areas), and you also have to factor in the time it takes the alarm company to call you to see if it’s a false alarm, decide it isn’t, and then call the police.

Most burglars will be in and out before the police even arrive. And while the alarm could scare them away, it may not stop them from quickly grabbing what they can before they bounce.

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This is why the simple act of advertising an alarm system is usually more effective than actually having an alarm. Sure, they may think you’re bluffing. But why take the chance if nearby houses don’t sport the same sticker?

Set Up a Security Camera

If there’s one thing that burglars absolutely want to avoid at all costs, it’s being identified. That fact makes security cameras one of the better security devices you can buy.

There are a couple different methods for going about this, such as getting a fully-wired security system that records 24/7, or getting a Wi-Fi cam that’s easy to set up and only records when it detects motion.

RELATED: Wired Security Cameras vs. Wi-Fi Cams: Which Ones Should You Buy?

Whatever you decide on, install it in an area that easily can be seen by a potential burglar if they walk up to your home. At that point, they’ll nope right out of there.

Get a Big Dog (Or At Least Say You Have One)

If you don’t already have one, a big dog can be a great deterrent for burglars. If you don’t have (or want) a dog, you can at least get one of those “Beware of Dog” signs.

Of course, like with alarm systems, having a dog isn’t the grand answer to keeping all burglars out forever, but the presence of a big dog definitely helps. But even just having a warning sign and maybe even a dog bowl sitting on the back porch can make burglars think twice and not risk it.

Remember the game we’re playing here. Set up obstructions that make your home seem like a harder target.

Keep Burglars Out of Your Life

Umm, why would I be friends with a burglar in the first place? Often times, though, you may not even realize it. It could be that sketchy guy down the street, a drug-addicted relative, or just a friend of a friend. The truth is that around 65% of burglaries are committed by people who know the victim in some way.

That’s why it’s important to not openly advertise on Facebook when you’re going on vacation. Or if you do, at least do an audit of your friends list and keep track of your privacy settings.

Lock Your Damn Doors!

This seems like an obvious one, but I’m always shocked by the number of people I know who never lock their doors.

Reasons usually revolve around living out in the country or living in a small town in a safe neighborhood, but it only takes one time for a burglar to break in to get you to reconsider your lock situation.

Of course, locking your doors may not stop a burglar, as it’s not the only way into a house. But it is one more deterrent standing in the way.

And on a similar subject, keep your garage door and windows closed—especially when you’re not home. Both make for exceptionally easy entry points into your home.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.